I have been teaching a series of classes through the Oregon Public Library. Last night’s teachings was on Writing Memoirs. Here is a link to the Utube: Writing Memoirs. A central thread in the class is the requirement of vulnerability if you want to write anything worth reading.
In writing anything autobiographical it gets down to our willingness to be honest with ourselves and our readers. To be vulnerable in ways that translate our meaningful experiences into something meaningful to others.
Everything in nature points to this doorway. A way of Being that is honest, exposed, natural, connected, nurturing, destructive, creative and vulnerable.
To be vulnerable means to be honest, open, intimate, first with ourselves, and then, we invite this vulnerability into all our encounters. To cross this threshold of vulnerability in our writing we want to get our first draft of our memoir written, and you don’t want to leave anything out of this first draft. Don’t worry about offending others or exposing yourself. We have computers now, we can cut and paste or take out anything we want in a later version. If you are not vulnerable in this way, where you hold back some encounter or name, you close off to other narratives that are attached to that scene or story. So, you are not only controlling the flow of words, ideas and meaning, you are shutting off from more that is waiting to be revealed.
In our first drafts, write it all down. Bleed and sweat and cry on the page. Share the most embarrassing moments and thoughts, and expose the abuse or the abuser. Reveal how you got into and out of that predicament. Give us the story of your most courageous hour. Ignore nothing. Witness that when you are open in this way with yourself, more will be revealed to you, through you. Write all that down too.
Your vulnerability is a doorway to more story.
Vulnerability is what we are naturally prone toward. Everything that gets in our way to be so, causes suffering. Vulnerability brings peace, joy, connection and prosperity. Look at those who are powerful but not vulnerable (yes I know who comes to mind) . . . does he look happy, satisfied, at peace? You can be the leader of the free world and still feel left out, complaining about what you don’t have --- all because you don’t have the capacity or willingness to be vulnerable.
Our vulnerability opens us up to ours and other’s grief, stories, questions, and our deepest desire to simply belong.
When we bring this vulnerability to our writing (and life), we feel our belonging.
Outside circumstances become less influential on our experiences, where we come to live from this inner strength and courage of being and belonging.
All because we are willing (and able) to be vulnerable.
This is a risk.
In our writing, our vulnerabilities are a mirror first to us, we write for ourselves, where we hurt, what questions we hold secret, our desires and our fears. We write about our beauty and courage, which also takes a vulnerability. We share our darkest and brightest moments. Then, when we are willing, we share our stories, our vulnerabilities with the world through the written word. And once our vulnerabilities, our truth are in writing, it’s there for everyone to read. Once we have taken our truth and put it out there, we are transforming the world one word at a time.
What are you afraid of? Write about that.
What have you ignored or avoided? Write about that.
What is the name of your abuser? Write his/her name down.
Who or what rescued you? Write about that.
What are your secret shames? Write about that.
What do you want to believe? Write about that.
What do you hope for (that might surprise others)? Write about that.
What do you regret? Write about that.
What and who have you left behind? Write about that.
How has your Higher Power shown up in your life? Write about that.
What or who has shut you up? Write about that.
Who hurt you? Write about that.
How are you courageous? Write about that.
Who or what do you miss? Write about that.
What do you have to brag about? Own it. And write about that.
THE WELL OF GRIEF
Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief,
turning down through its black water,
to the place we cannot breathe,
will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water cold and clear,
nor find in the darkness glimmering,
the small round coins,
thrown by those who wished for something else.
By David Whyte, https://www.davidwhyte.com/essentials
Join other yogis and writers on an exploration of our vulnerability: Rise! Yoga & Writing for Transformation. facilitated by myself and yoga instructor, Molly Chanson (the Yogi & the Writer). Friday afternoon through Sunday morning next week! Live, distant experience. Still room for you.
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Julie lives in Mount Horeb WI where she walks her 2 dogs through Stewart Park, gardens her corner lot, wears a mask i public (and a cape at night), waits for spring 11 months of the year. She is author of The Zero Point Agreement & ten other books. Her up coming book: The Clue of the Red Thread comes out this fall, 2020 through Shanti Arts, Nine Rivers Imprint.